Saxton Field history

Watching Saxton field develop into a 21st century sports complex, you might wonder about the origins of the name and the history of the land that bears it.

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Saxton comes to New Zealand

John Waring Saxton (1808-1866) was born in England, the second son of 12 children. His sister Maria married a New Zealand Company governor, hence the interest in emigration to the new colony. John and Priscilla Saxton and their five children arrived in Nelson aboard the Clifford in May 1842, along with Priscilla's mother, the elder Saxton brother Reverend Charles and his wife Mary. However, she died soon after their arrival and he returned to England with their baby son.

John Saxton and family had brought out a small prefab house, but it was damaged in a landslip. Instead, they settled in a house on their town acre in the Brook. In 1844 Saxton bought the New Zealand Company barracks at the port and shifted the building to his section at Stoke. The house 'Oaklands' survives. It's now the home of Saxton descendants, the Raine family. They have maintained the house and its large gardens.

A successful farmer

Although he had no farming background, Saxton and his sons successfully farmed the difficult land - it was swampy on the flats, with the remainder very hilly. The property, originally around 1,000 acres, stretches from Main Road Stoke, south to the hilltops, and from Ngawhatu to Champion Road .

Active in civic affairs

John Saxton was treasurer of the Nelson Institute (the predecessor of our library and museum), a member of the Provincial Council (before central government took over) and was involved with the Anglican Church. As a musician, he was in demand at social events, and he was a gifted watercolourist - his set of Nelson views appeared in Edward Jerningham Wakefield's book, Adventure in New Zealand . Saxton's diaries from 1841-1850 are held by the Nelson Provincial Museum , a valuable record of early Nelson life.

The name lives on at Saxton Field

In 1855 Saxton took up the Tarndale lease on a large run between the head of the Clarence and Wairau valleys, where he built a cob homestead, known for the hospitality offered to travellers. The family base continued to be in Nelson, and the Saxton name lives on.

Click here for a detailed history of the development of the Saxton Field Sports Fields up to 2007 . (286KB PDF)